Rabat – The Moroccan musical scene has, by definition, changed throughout the last decades of the twentieth century up to today.
Compared to the 1970s, Moroccans have neither the same political awareness, nor the same mode of thinking. The musical scene has moved from the top down.
Nass El-Ghiwane, El-Malhoune, El-Ayta, Taktouta El-Jabaliya, and all the other purely Moroccan traditional songs disappeared with the fading of an audience who was able to understand and relate to the content of these songs. While Nass El-Ghiwane and El-Ayta used to tackle purely political issues, El-Malhoune addressed the daily life of women inside harems and love stories that took place in riad gardens and on rooftops.
Nowadays, we barely find songs that tackle politics, even in the genre of rap, which has historically served as an outlet for criticism of the political and social environment. More than this, the concept of love has also radically diverged from older conceptions that the previous generations knew through songs like “Laghzal Fatma.”
Due to modernity and globalization, Moroccan culture, and specifically the Moroccan musical scene, have almost completely lost their cultural specificity. With the arrival of pop music to Morocco, audiences of hard metal, rock, reggae, and even hip-hop decreased bit by bit. Pop has become the real medium to voice the daily challenges for the new Moroccan music generation.
Thus, we had the emergence of new voices such as Saad Lamjarred, Aminux, Zouhair Bahaoui, Douzi, Ihab Amir, Ibtissam Tiskat, and Dounia Batma discussing love between young people, betrayal, and relationship problems in general.
The content of rap music has also been affected by the new pop trend,but Muslim and many other rappers continue to raise awareness of social issues like poverty, corruption, and freedom of speech.
In the history of music, pop served as a grand opportunity for female voices to be heard, while rapping was limited to male performers and fans. Girls who listened to rap were considered odd, as rap was directly related to only one gender in the Moroccan mindset.
However, women continue to break into many different fields that used to be restricted only to men, including rap. Moroccan women began rapping in 2008, with the rise of the women’s rap group, “Tigress Flow.”
Created by three girls—Miss ND, Soltana, and Miss Wiba—they performed first in the Boulevard of Young Musicians in Casablanca and Mawazine and were very well-known for two main songs, “Maghribiya” (Moroccan Girl) and “Kifash” (How/What) Soltana also released a single called “SawtNssa” (the Voice of Women).
Read Also: Nass El Ghiwane: story of a Moroccan Legend
The women’s raps sought to express the problems that Moroccan women face in a patriarchal society. They sang from their own positions as women, and discussed their personal problems. They also sang wearing loose clothing to deemphasize sexuality typically attribute to female performers.Moreover, they avoided stereotypical images about the female body and swear words in an attempt toconvey a certain level of respect for the Moroccan context.
After Tigress Flow, women rappers dipped in fame until 2017, when a new generation of rappers emerged.
With the rise of the new generation, the essence of rap has radically changed. For Ilham Stati, Oumaima Lahlou, or Zineb Said, rap equates to nudity and swearing. Although they don’t proclaim this idea directly in their interviews, it is obvious in their music videos, which are mainly about exposing and emphasizing their feminine bodies. This reinforces stereotypes about women in the minds of girls, especially teenagers, who represent a large part of their audience and who will see them as role models and imitate them.
Their lyrics are mostly about clashing with each other and about money; the word “dollar” is present in each of their songs. There is no hint of the focus on women’s issues and resistance to patriarchal society that was so present in the songs of the last generation of Moroccan women rappers.
Rap may be about resistance, but these new female rappers are resisting resistance by exploiting a resistance tool to produce and emphasize different forms of power in society. It is useless to have a female body while the mind remains patriarchal.